Keenly fought encounter goes Macc’s way
ON a sunny winter’s afternoon the Cheshire ‘derby’ went the way of Macclesfield in a keenly fought encounter at Priory Park, as the Blues closed their 2008 ‘home’ campaign with two long distance trips on the horizon before the Christmas break.
Before the game both teams and spectators observed a minute’s silence in memory of Ali Johnson of Tynedale Rugby Club, who, at the age of just 28, died last week after a horrific injury received in a league game at Fylde back in 2004.
Caldy kicked off and were first on the scoreboard when stand off, Ben Macpherson, slotted over a penalty with barely two minutes on the clock.
Thereafter a period of ‘ping pong rugby’ took place as both sides tested each other’s catching abilities before Ross Winney equalised the scores with his own penalty.
The first try of the afternoon came the way of Macclesfield when, after a Richard Hughes break, the ball was fed out to powerful wingman Jon Lowdon, who touched down wide out and, while the conversion was short, the Blues led.
Macpherson was wide with a penalty attempt on 22 minutes, but Winney made no mistake moments later when Caldy fell offside to increase the lead to 11-3.
There followed a period of yellow cards – first to Macclesfield’s Nathan Bonner-Evans for a technical offence, after which Macpherson narrowed the deficit with his second penalty, but worse was to come six minutes later when, after a mid field handbags session, Macclesfield’s Jon Lowdon and Caldy’s Gavin Woods were given ten minutes to cool off.
During this time, with the Blues down to 13 players, Caldy scored their try through skipper, Shaun Woof, who glided through shallow defence to score for Macpherson to convert and give Caldy a 13-11 interval lead.
The second half started in the gathering gloom and, as in the first half, an early penalty converted by Winney gave the Blues a narrow lead, but this was again cancelled out when the home side were again penalised for not rolling away. Macpherson put Caldy ahead with the kick by 16-14 and thereafter followed a period of intense Caldy pressure in the Blues half which was successfully repelled by excellent defence.
Macpherson had an opportunity to increase Caldy’s narrow lead, but was surprisingly wide from in front of the sticks.
After this let off, Macclesfield increased the tempo of their game and with 12 minutes of time left an excellent threequarter move saw the ball moved quickly through several sets of hands before full back and leading try scorer so far this season, Fergus Mulchrone, latched onto the ball to score a text book try.
Although Winney was wide with the conversion, it gave the Blues a lead that they were not to surrender, but with still all to play for, only a crunching tackle mid field stopped a promising Caldy move as the game drew to its close.
Following the game a pleased head coach, Geoff Wappett, said: “The game was always going to be tight and when we went 16-14 down I felt it was a turning point as we didn’t panic and kept our composure until we scored that excellent try. The defence was top class throughout.”
Team: Mulchrone, Lowdon, McDermott R, Hughes, Fowles, Winney and Townsend. Devine, Allen, Robinson, Marsh, Bonner-Evans, Jones, Baines and Keep.Replacements: Latham, Moss, Hewitt, Smithson and McDermott G Geoff Allen